“All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.” Lennon and McCartney
This week contains Valentine’s Day, and truthfully, I’m getting pretty sick of seeing millions of red hearts all over every store since the day after Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pro-love, and have been blessed with an amazing wife that I clearly don’t deserve, but the hyper-commercialism of romantic love becomes very syrupy and I worry that it can get in the way of understanding THE LOVE THAT HEALS.
I’m no expert on the nuances of biblical language, but from what I read, there are 4 main types of love discussed in the Bible. Storge (pronounced stor-jay) is the love a parent would have for their child. Eros is the passionate love a couple has for each other and is the root for the word “erotic”. Philos (fee-los) is the love that is supposed to exist between believers in Christ (hence, the origin of Philadelphia as the “city of brotherly love”). Finally, is Agape (uh-gah-pay). This is the love God has for you and it is unconditional, pure, and sacrificial. Jesus lived and died to show us we could have this kind of love back toward God, but our egos persist with conditions, and thoughts of self-idolization.
Most of us, especially in our disease, feel let down by storge, dabble in eros, have suspicion for philos, and feel utterly unworthy of agape love. Even though our imperfection as humans prevents us from exhibiting perfect love, it is still the ideal. In Matthew 22, Jesus points us toward agape love by telling us to love God with all our heart, and soul, and mind. He then tells us to love our neighbor as ourself. AS – not ‘as much as’ you love yourself. Otherwise, you could say “I hate myself, so I guess Jesus said I could hate everyone else, too.” What our Lord appears to have been teaching was to love others THE SAME WAY you learned to love yourself.
Many addicts approach sobriety with a profound sense of being unworthy of love from anyone, including God. As they spent time in prayer and God’s Word, they slowly come to accept that God really did make them in His image – fully worthy of respect and love without conditions. As the message that we are worthy of love sinks in, we learn to love ourselves. In this same way, we can come to realize that our neighbors are also children of God and worthy of our love. We love them AS ourselves.
The message of Him & Them is the good news of God’s transformative love.
And that love is all you need.
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